We parents know that it’s essential for kids to have friends, especially in school where they spend a bulk of their time learning together with their peers and experiencing many other things beyond. Friends boost self-esteem, enrich our lives, and provide the necessary moral support. In truth, making a friend in school is as important as getting good grades, developmentally speaking.
Learning to make friends with peers is a crucial skill for kids and one that they will continually use and refine all their lives.
However, not all kids have it easy when making friends. While we parents can’t make friends for our kids, we can still help them develop and practice needed social skills. Here are a couple of tips you can use to help your preschooler make friends at school.
Social skill development
Social is learned. In some cases, hyperactive children often act in ways that hinder their desire to make friends. They often have trouble taking turns and controlling their emotions when things go their way. More inattentive kids may look flighty or simply hover at playgroups, unsure how to assert themselves.
Try some coaching at home if you notice that your child is struggling to interact with his peers. Emphasize sharing and taking turns during family playtime and explain that friends expect the same behaviour. Role-playing can also aid here. As a parent, it’s expected that you also demonstrate good social behaviour yourself.
You can also set up a meeting with his teacher. Often a kid will say that he’s hated by everyone, but they may not be able to describe exactly what’s going on whilst teachers can offer a better sense of your child’s peer interactions and suggest a workaround.
Social training on playdates
Supervised playdates are a good staging point for children to enhance their social skills. Spend some time before playdates to check social cues with your kids. Some playdate-prep include talking with your child about being a good host and ways he can make his guests feel comfortable.
Let the playdate unfold as it may as long as it’s not dangerous. Children learn best from the natural consequences of their actions, which makes socializing in a warm, supportive setting crucial.
After the date, review notable moments and focus on the good behaviours you look to reinforce. Kids become more encouraged by praise than when avoiding criticism. Also, using labelled praise is very effective. Instead of saying ‘nice job,’ say, ‘you shared your toys freely with your friend.’”
Assisting shy kids
Many kids are naturally social creatures while others need more adapting. It’s okay if your child is a bit more hesitant in social situations. It’s not realistic to expect your child to lead every group, so avoid pushing too hard. However, avoid keeping tentative kids at home, either. There’s a difference between accommodating and enabling.
Shy kids need opportunities to meet new kids, but forcing them may just get them to isolate themselves more.
Many times, the reason why a child finds it hard to make friends at school is that he may come from a different background, culture, or even more if the child is a total expat enrolled in a local public or private school.
An expat preschooler should be enrolled in an international school that offers PYP Campaign to ensure that both his academic and social needs are fully satisfied. Teachers structure the learning experiences that focus on improving curiosity and encouraging students to learn and socialize. Students learn from local, national, and international examples and resources.
Finally, keep in mind not to place many of their own social expectations on your children. Keep things in perspective since some kids need just one or two good friends. Being the most popular kid in their class is not really that important.